News


DATE=2/20/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-227081
TITLE=IRAQ/PRESIDENTIAL SITES
BYLINE=MAX RUSTON
DATELINE=BAGHDAD
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  A SENIOR UNITED NATIONS OFFICIAL SAYS HE HAS BEEN GIVEN 
ACCESS TO THE 8 PRESIDENTIAL SITES IN IRAQ AT THE CENTER OF THE 
DISPUTE OVER UN WEAPONS INSPECTIONS.  VOA'S MAX RUSTON REPORTS 
NEWS OF THE ACCESS WAS RELEASED FRIDAY AS UN SECRETARY GENERAL 
KOFI ANAN ARRIVED IN BAGHDAD FOR NEGOTIATIONS AIMED AT PREVENTING
A MILITARY CONFRONTATION.  



TEXT:  THE HEAD OF A SPECIAL UN TEAM, WORKING FOR THE SECRETARY 
GENERAL,  SAYS HE AND 4 TECHNICAL EXPERTS WERE GIVEN UNLIMITED 
ACCESS TO THE 8 PRESIDENTIAL SITES DURING THE LAST WEEK.  THE 
OFFICIAL, STEFAN DEMISTRA, SAID THE VISITS WERE PART OF HIS 
MISSION TO PREPARE A MAP OF THE 8 SITES IRAQI  PRESIDENT SADDAM 
HUSSEIN HAS DECLARED OFF LIMITS TO UN WEAPONS INSPECTORS.

HE SAYS HIS TEAM USED HELICOPTERS TO PHOTOGRAPH THE COMPLEXES 
WHICH COVER A TOTAL AREA OF ABOUT 30 SQUARE KILOMETERS.  HE WOULD
NOT SAY HOW MANY BUILDINGS WERE IDENTIFIED BUT DID SAY HIS TEAM 
ENTERED BETWEEN 10 AND 20 PERCENT OF THE STRUCTURES.

THE TEAM INCLUDED 2 MEMBERS OF THE UNSCOM  WEAPONS INSPECTION 
TEAM WHICH IRAQ CHARGES IS STAFFED MAINLY BY AMERICAN SPYS.  THE 
UNITED STATES HAS DENIED THAT CHARGE.

MR DEMISTRA SAYS MOST OF THE BUILDINGS APPEARED TO BE GOVERMENT 
GUEST HOUSES INTENDED FOR HIGH LEVEL DIGNATARIES. HE DID NOT SAY 
IF IT APPEARED ANY OF THE STRUCTURES WERE BEING USED FOR THE 
PREPARATION OR STORAGE OF CHEMICAL OR BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS BUT HE 
SAID, DETERMINING THAT, WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PART OF THE SPECIFIC 
PARAMETERS OF HIS MISSION.

MR DEMISTRA AND HIS TEAM SPENT LESS THAN 1 WEEK MAPPING THE 
SITES.  THEY TOOK ABOUT 500 PHOTOGRAPHS AND CARRIED OUT AERIAL 
SURVEILLANCE OF ALL BUT 2 OF THE SITES.  

HIS STATEMENTS COULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE WEEKEND TALKS IN 
BAGHDAD BETWEEN THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL AND IRAQI OFFICIALS ON 
WEAPONS  INSPECTIONS.   WHILE MR DEMISTRA DECLINED TO DRAW ANY 
CONCLUSIONS FROM HIS FINDINGS,  THEY COULD BE SEEN AS AN 
INDICATION THAT THE CURRENT DISPUTE WITH IRAQ MAY BE SOLVED WITH 
CHANGES IN THE  TERMINOLOGY OF THE WEAPONS INSPECTIONS RATHER 
THAN THE INSPECTIONS THEMSELVES. (SIGNED)

NEB/MPR/PLM

20-Feb-98 6:28 PM EST (2328 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.